3 Weeks Old

Today they are between 3 and 3.5 weeks old. After advice from Jenny we’ve increased their milk to on demand and at least 500ml per feed – thanks Jenny :)
That and moving to 3 feeds a day for those that can take it. Brownie is coping well with the new regime and he really seems to have turned a corner, taking up to 1.75 bottles which is around 450ml per feed. Meanwhile the rain has well and truly arrived so they have a new shelter on wheels so we can move it around out of the puddles.

Lambs in their new shelter on wheels, out of the puddles!

Try to find bigger bottles! We’re using baby bottles at the moment fitted with sheep teats. It was OK in the early days but having to refill them for these larger feeds is a pain. Whenever we go into the local agri/country store they never have screw-on teats in stock… must look out for them this winter so we can use squash bottles.

Dark Clouds...

Brownie didn’t want his milk first thing this morning and only took 100ml. He took some more at 11am but by the 1pm feed he was a full bottle behind the rest. He seems to be breathing really heavily but it doesn’t sound like his lungs, more like his heart having trouble keeping up. After a chat with the farmer we resolved to give Brownie the best care we can and brace ourselves just in case. By contrast the Gang of Four have started to demand more milk than their current 300ml so we’ll increase theirs soon. Rain is forecast to add to our cloudy mood. The water table here is so high that any serious amount of rain is going to give us surface water again. 

Easter Fun

Lambs are now between 2 and 2.5 weeks old. Over this weekend we moved to 4 feeds a day which is roughly 8am, 1pm, 6pm and 10.15pm. Brownie still can’t take a whole bottle of 250ml so we end up popping out between feeds to top him up. I gather the received wisdom is not to do this but we want him to try and keep up with the others. Easter Sunday we had family over for lunch so we delayed the lunchtime feed to accommodate the volunteer bottle feeders!
Volunteer feeders over Easter helping to feed the HenSafe lambs!

Running with the Pack

www.smallholderjournal.blogspot.com Brownie - needing lots of tlc and small feeds to ensure he grows to maturity. He is 12 days old in this pic.

We went to the barn with trepidation this morning and were relieved and delighted when 5 lively lambs were there to greet us! 
2 of them are 16 days old now but because of the younger ones at 12 days, and Brownie who hasn’t the capacity for a large 250ml feed, we’re sticking with 5 feeds per day of 200ml at the moment.
All were running around as a group and kicking up their heels this afternoon. We sat on the bench with an evening beer and took in the last of the day’s sunshine. Life doesn’t get much better than this...
White face at around 14 days old, enjoying the sunshine at the HenSafe Smallholding
White Face

Lambs do not come with guarantees. Especially orphan lambs.
Enjoy life.

The Gang of Four

Well the lambs are growing well – all except Brownie. He’s still very small and needing lots of breathers between drinks. He’s been having between 150ml and 180ml over the last few days. The rest are now on 200ml each feed. He gets fed last or the others just try and steal his bottle, and he feeds better if he’s held against my legs. Discovered he likes his milk colder than the others: We’ve been reducing the temperature slightly from blood-heat to tepid, for all of them.
Friends came to stay on Monday so we had volunteers for the afternoon and evening feeds. Funny though, could we hear snoring from the spare room at 7.15 the next morning?!
www.smallholderjournal.blogspot.com Lambs feeding well in the April sunshine on the HenSafe smallholding. These are about 10 days old and developing their bouncing capabilities!
Bottle Feeding Lambs
There’s definitely a Gang Of Four who bounce around, plus Brownie who can’t quite keep up. They’re spending all day outdoors now so on Tuesday we made them a new enclosure with some temporary poultry netting – the stuff that rolls out with spiked posts. However… we had forgotten the rabbits had been eating it (last time it was out it wasn’t electrified). Spent the afternoon sitting on the ground knitting the holes together with baler twine with much help from clambering, nosy lambs. Now it’s electrified they quickly learned that fence eating is not advisable!
We’ve given them some creep and their own water - chickens do not like sharing. Also over the last few days they’ve been playing with grass in their mouths and some have been eating little bits.
The bad news - yesterday mid afternoon Brownie wasn’t looking good. He was lying down by one of the fruit trees in the sunshine, quivering and breathing really hard. I still feel he may not make it and am kind of steeling myself. Then with no warning he’s up and about exploring with the others. I am wondering how many lambs we will have tomorrow morning.

Do not put poultry fence away without mending it first.
Lambs like to chew shoe laces and trousers when you’re sitting on the ground.


www.smallholderjournal.blogspot.com Lambs enjoying the April sunshine
Lambs enjoying the April sunshine

A sunny day at last! For the mid-morning feed we turned them out with the chickens to stretch their legs and have a bounce. Crashed out in a heap. I’m keeping an eye out from the veg plot as they’re small enough for a fox to take.
OK. They all seem to have names now. Oops – well it helps with knowing which ones are fed and which aren’t. White Face and Number 7 are the older lambs, Dappley, Red Dot and Brownie are the smaller ones.
They stayed out all day and we brought them back to the barn for the early evening feed.

Lambs Settling In

Orphan lambs HenSafe smallholding

Awake early! We are aiming for 5 feeds evenly spaced through the day so that will be 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm.
The smallest lamb who we’ll call Brownie (he’s brown…) is scouring a bit. We’ve weakened his feed slightly and eased off on the quantity. He likes to sip his milk rather than gulp the whole lot down in one as some of the larger ones do. Takes a bit of time and we move him outside the pen for feeding or he gets mugged by the others for the bottle.

Collecting the Lambs

New lambs on the HenSafe smallholding: 3 are 4 days old, the other 2 are a week old. Follow our journey as we raise them to maturity www.smallholdersjournal.blogspot.com

At 6.30pm we collected our 5 lambs. I had forgotten how small they would be! 
They are on 5 x feeds per day with 100-150ml of formula at each feed.
2 x born 1st April, taken from the ewes at 2pm. They were a bit skittish and didn’t drink until the 10pm feed.
3 x born only 3 or 4 days ago on 5th April, bottle fed since they had their colostrum. These would need feeding as soon as we got them home.

Make sure the barn area is ready for their arrival and all your equipment is to hand.
When you collect pay close attention to how much the farmer tells you they are drinking.
Be aware that your formula milk may be different - it may take them time to get used to it.
If the lambs start to scour (diarrhoea) ease back on the quantity (ml) of milk and add a little more water to it.
Do not overfeed – they should not look bulbous after a feed or look “tucked up” holding their rear ends underneath.
Overfeeding and milk too hot can cause Bloat (fermentation in the stomach) which is serious and a potential killer.
When the lambs are 7-10 days old reduce the temperature of the milk to a lukewarm/cold.
Their stomachs are small – little and often is the key.
Orphan lambs on a larger scale can be fed with a lamb bar and ad lib cold milk.
You can also ask the farmer to band the tails, scrotum and also tag their ears.
If you have any problems ring the farmer! S/he will be only too pleased to advise.

Getting lambs used to the bottle:

For our 2 older lambs just off the ewe I found it best to squat down and reverse the lamb in against me. Then left hand under his head I can ease my thumb into his mouth and offer the teat. It’s important not to force, they get it eventually, just as my knees are about to give out!

Raising Orphan Lambs

Last year we raised 4 orphan lambs for the first time. In spite of numerous searches we found sparse information online, and some of it conflicted. On a huge learning curve we worked through it, sometimes phoning the farmer for advice. Our lambs grew well to maturity.
This year we’re doing it again with 5 lambs! Armed with more info we aim to share our journey to help others doing the same.
orphan lambs HenSafe smallholding

Our Preparation:
In a draught-free corner of the barn we set up: 3 hurdles with temporary boarding on the side to stop escapees through the bars. Not too large an area – they can keep warmer in a smaller space. Our 5 lambs have a space about 1.5m square to start off.
Get together:
Feeding bottles – teats checked
Straw for bedding
Powdered lamb milk formula
Large dog cage to collect them in